In March of 2007, the Center for Disease Control and the Produce for Better Health Foundation launched a national campaign with the slogan, “Fruits & Veggies — More Matters”, replacing the old “Five a Day” campaign, which dates back to the early 1990s. They have discovered that five servings of fruits and vegetables is just not enough. According to these organizations, adults need anywhere from seven to 13 cups of produce daily to reap all the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Many folks have a hard enough time eating 5 servings a day, which generally equals 5 cups of raw fruit or veggies or 2-1/2 cups cooked. The thought of 7 to 13 cups a day is probably overwhelming to most folks. How can that much produce be incorporated into the diet? It really is quite easy.
I have been a vegetarian for most of my life. Sometimes my diet is not that good, but generally, I can say that I easily eat 7 to 13 cups of fruits and veggies a day. How?
Breakfast: I usually start my day off with a smoothie, made with 1 cup organic vanilla yogurt, 1 banana (about 1 cup) and 1 cup strawberries, or any other fuit that suits your tastes (frozen fruit is great for smoothies). Or, slice a banana or some strawberries on your favorite cereal. If you are a morning bagel eater, try it with sliced red onion and tomato, or spread some avocado on top of it.
Lunch: Generally, I eat a salad. I like colorful salads, and often they have seven different vegetables….lettuce, cucumber, red bell pepper, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrot, red onion, celery, and avocado. A big salad is about 4 -5 cups worth of veggies. Sound like too much work? Buy veggies already cut up. Still too much work? My “lazy” salad is mixed baby salad greens (pre-washed) with steamed asparagus or snow peas and red bell pepper, with walnuts. still, about 4 cups worth of veggies. If you are fortunate to live or work near a store like Whole Foods, they have a great salad bar….it may cost a little more to buy your salad ingredients that way, but it cuts down on the work. And anyway, aren’t you worth it? Add a harb-boiled egg, some shredded or cubed cheese, or a small handful of nuts for some protein.
Dinner? If you don’t want to spend a bunch of time chopping fresh veggies, buy frozen…you can even buy bags of mixed vegetables for a bit a variety. Add them to soups, or stir-fry them with your favorite protein. Steam them and serve them as a side, sprinkled with parmesian cheese, Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or soy sauce, or a splash of your favorite viniagrette.
Snacks: Buy a bag of baby carrots, celerty sticks, broccoli crowns, cherry tomatoes…these all go great dipped into hummus, which you can also get pre-made. Dried fruit is also a great snack, you can even keeep them in a desk drawer…just don’t eat too much, as dried fruit has a heavy sugar content, and can also cause stomach pains if you are no drinking enough water.
With a little bit of practice, it really is not that difficult to eat healthy meals. The more veggies you eat, the better you will feel. Mom was right….eat your veggies!